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Prekindergarteners left behind: Expulsion rates in State prekindergarten systems

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Gilliam, Walter S.
Publication Date: 
17 May 2005

Abstract: Expulsion is the most severe disciplinary sanction that an educational program can impose. Results are reported from a national study of 3,898 prekindergarten classrooms (81.0% response rate), representing all of the nation's 52 state-funded prekindergarten systems currently operating across 40 states. Weighted results indicated that 10.4% of prekindergarten teachers reported expelling at least one preschooler in the past 12 months, of which 19.9% expelled more than one. Nationally, 6.67 preschoolers were expelled per 1,000 enrolled. Although this rate for state-subsidized prekindergarten is lower than what has been previously reported for child care programs, the prekindergarten expulsion rate is 3.2 times the rate for K-12 students. Rates are reported for each of the states and state prekindergarten systems represented. Significant cross state variability in expulsion rates was found, possibly due in part to differences in how state prekindergarten systems are structured. Rates were highest for older preschoolers and African-Americans, and boys were over 4½ times more likely to be expelled than were girls. Expulsion rates were lowest in classrooms in public schools and Head Start and highest in faith-affiliated centers and for-profit child care. The likelihood of expulsion decreases significantly with access to classroom-based mental health consultation.